Thursday, April 30, 2009

UC Santa Barbara Professor Compares Gaza to the Holocaust

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

Reichskristalnacht- This is not Gaza

This is not Gaza

This is not Gaza

This is not Gaza

The on-going Israel-Palestinian conflict continues to rear its head on University of California campuses. This time the furor is at UC Santa Barbara, where sociology professor William I Robinson (who is Jewish) recently sent an email to his students containing images of Nazi atrocities against Jews compared with images of "Israeli crimes" against Palestinians.

At least two students were offended by the images, with which they did not agree. They have taken the step of formally complaining to the administration. As a result, an investigation by the university is on-going into whether Robinson violated his academic role or whether he was simply exercising his academic freedom. Predictably, his professorial colleagues are rallying behind Robinson, who states that his academic freedom is under attack.

How this plays out at UCSB is anybody's guess. To me, it is just another case of a liberal university professor trying to shove his personal views down the throats of his students. It is also another example of why so many Jewish students feel under siege on UC campuses as a result of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. (I myself teach at UC-Irvine, and as I write this, we are gearing up for another week of attacks against Israel-as well as America and "Zionist" Jews- being sponsored by the Muslim Student Union at UCI.)

Here is what I would say to Professor Robinson:

First of all, my students (English as a second language) have no idea what I think about the world and its issues. My job is to teach them English-not teach them what they should think. You can teach sociology without injecting your personal views. You could remain neutral and present both sides of an issue.

Be that as it may, you are entitled to your opinions. If you sympathize with the Palestinian cause, I can respect that, and certainly, there are valid points to be made on their behalf. Moreover, Israel is not immune from criticism. Where I take issue with you is comparing Israel's policies to those of Nazi Germany, a practice that is currently popular-but outrageously false. I respect the fact that you are Jewish, but I also have extensive knowledge of Nazi Germany. I have spent three years of my life in Germany and return regularly. I also have written a history of a small town in Germany, which includes an account of the Nazi era and the fate of its Jewish residents.

First of all, Nazi Germany was never under external threat of attack from its neighbors. Jews were not undermining the country's security, nor were they engaging in acts of terror against the German state or people. Nobody was launching rockets into Germany from neighboring countries. Jews were not blowing themselves up in crowded marketplaces or on buses. In fact, with few exceptions (like the Warsaw ghetto) Jews went to their fate submissively. Israel is, indeed, under attack from the Palestinians and from its neighbors ever since its creation in 1948. They are entitled to defend themselves from their enemies who are determined to wipe them out.

Where can you point to an orchestrated government campaign against Palestinians as sub-humans? Where is the Reichskristalnacht against Palestinians? Where can you find a deliberate attempt by Israel to literally extinguish the Palestinian people?

Gaza is not, as you have claimed, comparable to the Warsaw ghetto. The Warsaw ghetto was only a step to the Final Solution, and the Nazi intent was to destroy the Jews. That is not the intent of Israel vis-vis the Gazans/Palestinians. Gazans today are living under Gazan rule. There are no Jews in Gaza. They left. Unless I am mistaken, there is a border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Is it fair to condemn Israel for shutting off its border with Gaza when under rocket attack and not criticize Egypt when they shut down their border? Why is it that the Arab countries in the region want to keep the Palestinians confined to this small area living as refugees and in squalor rather than let them assimilate into their countries? I think you know the answer.

If Israelis are to be compared to Nazis, where are the gas chambers? How can you compare the sad fact that Gazan/Palestinian and Lebanese civilians are killed because they were caught in the cross-fire (Hamas and Hizbollah are notorious for setting up their combat operations in populated areas)or killed by air strikes when the targets were Hamas/Hizbollah fighters with the deliberate genocide that took place in World War II? Where are the cases of Israeli troops rounding up Palestinians, marching them to pits and shooting them(men, women and children) by the hundreds?

If this sounds like a history lesson directed toward Professor Robinson, it is not. I am sure Robinson knows his German/Jewish history quite well. Rather, it is directed toward those students who have to have his distorted version of history shoved down their throats.

University students are entitled to an education-not an indoctrination.

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